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Global Village or CyberBalkans: Modeling and Measuring the Integration of Electronic Communities

37 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2005  

Marshall W. Van Alstyne

Boston University – Questrom School of Business; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School

Erik Brynjolfsson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

Information technology can link geographically separated people and help them locate interesting or useful resources. These attributes have the potential to bridge gaps and unite communities. Paradoxically, they also have the potential to fragment interaction and divide groups. Advances in technology can make it easier for people to spend more time on special interests and to screen out unwanted contact. Geographic boundaries can thus be supplanted by boundaries on other dimensions. This paper formally defines a precise set of measures of information integration and develops a model of individual knowledge profiles and community affiliation. These factors suggest specific conditions under which improved access, search, and screening can either integrate or fragment interaction on various dimensions. As IT capabilities continue to improve, preferences - not geography or technology - become the key determinants of community boundaries.

Keywords: Globalization, Information Economy, Information Flows, Computerization of Society, Organizational Structure, Economic Impacts, Balkanization, Social Networks

Suggested Citation

Van Alstyne, Marshall W. and Brynjolfsson, Erik, Global Village or CyberBalkans: Modeling and Measuring the Integration of Electronic Communities. Management Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=756445

Marshall W. Van Alstyne (Contact Author)

Boston University – Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-358-3571 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://questromapps.bu.edu/mgmt_new/Profiles/VanAlstyneMarshall.html

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School ( email )

Center for Digital Business
5 Cambridge Center - NE25, 7th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-0768 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://web.mit.edu/marshall/www/home.html

Erik Brynjolfsson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E53-313
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-4319 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://digital.mit.edu/erik

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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